The Chinese Dragonboat Festival


On the fifth day of the fifth month of the Chinese lunar calendar we will celebrate the Chinese Dragon Boat Festival.

You might have seen or heard of Dragon Boat Races in your hometown or in other cities around the world – and as you might have guessed, they all have their origin in this traditional Chinese festival.

While other Dragon Boat Races around the world take place at different times throughout the year, the original festival in China is celebrated on its traditional date: the fifth day of the fifth month of the Chinese lunar calendar. This year (2013) that will be around June 10th.

The infographic below does a great job explaining the (widely accepted) background of the festival, known as the story of the Minister ‘Qu Yuan’ of Chu. The state of Chu was one of the many ancient states that are now part of what we know today as ‘China’.

I have lived in China for a year now, so theoretically I should have already experienced the Dragon Boat Festival, or 端午节 (Duānwǔjié) as it’s called in 中国 (Zhōngguó). However, for Beijing residents this is just a “festival” like many others; you might not have to work for a couple of days and you eat a special food – the 粽子 (Zòngzi), a sticky rice dumpling wrapped in palm leaves and filled with different kinds of stuffing (meaty, spicy or sweet). I have only tried the dumplings with the red bean paste filling, which taste sweet. This year I am going to try a lot more varieties.

To experience the real spirit of ‘Duānwǔjié’ I probably will have to visit the southern regions of China, where the legend of Qu Yuan’s death has its origin. It’s on my list of things to do in the coming years whilst I still live in China.

If you already have visited a traditional Chinese Dragonboat Festival, I would be very happy to hear about your experience down there in the comments.

再见 (Zàijiàn),


dragon boat festival info graphic-english650

Credits: Infographic by

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is an education and online marketing professional from Germany working in his latest profession as marketing manager at a Chinese company in Beijing. His love for learning languages, especially the Chinese language and culture, will provide our readers deep insights into the modern China and how a "Lǎowài" experiences it. Marcus also is the webmaster of which is one of the biggest German online sources for China enthusiasts.

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